Thursday, March 27, 2008

Zimbabwe Elections Update: VP Mujuru Winds Up Campaign; Mugabe to Win at 57pc; Blair Admits Lies, etc.

VP Mujuru winds up poll campaign

ZBC News

Vice President Joice Mujuru has reiterated the call for Zimbabweans to vote for President Mugabe in tomorrow’s elections.

Cde Mujuru was speaking in Mount Darwin West constituency at campaign rallies where she is the Zanu-PF House of Assembly candidate.

As the country braces itself for the harmonised elections, Vice President Mujuru winded up her campaign for the ruling party with five rallies in the Chitepo, Chiburi, Nehanda, Mutwa and Kariano areas in the constituency. Cde Mujuru said after successfully implementing the land reform programme, Government was now focusing on assisting farmers to increase production on their farms.

She said challenges currently facing the country were a result of sanctions by Britain and its allies, adding that these would soon be overcome as Zimbabweans have proved to be a resilient people. Zanu-PF Senate candidate for Mount Darwin constituency Alice Chimbudzi called on Zimbabweans to shame the country’s detractors by voting resoundingly for the ruling party. — ZBC News.

President tipped to win by 57pc

By Mabasa Sasa

PRESIDENT Mugabe is likely to overwhelmingly win tomorrow's presidential election with between 56 to 57 percent of the vote, according to a survey conducted by the University of Zimbabwe’s Department of Political Science and Administration.

According to the countrywide survey overseen by the department’s chairman, Dr Joseph Kurebwa, the ruling Zanu-PF party will probably clinch a total of 41 Senate seats and 137 House of Assembly constituencies, ensuring another two-thirds in the next Parliament.

Prior to the 2005 parliamentary elections, Dr Kurebwa carried out an almost similar survey and projected Zanu-PF would win 72 seats and the MDC 45, which was not far off the actual outcome.

Zanu-PF went on to win 78 seats while the MDC got 41.

Conducted over a period of a month, this year’s survey projects opposition MDC faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai taking between 26 and 27 percent of the presidential vote with independent Simba Makoni managing around 13-14 percent.

The other independent presidential candidate, Langton Towungana, was likely to make up the numbers with 0,2 percent of the total vote count.

The projections for President Mugabe compare favourably to the roughly 52 percent he garnered in the last presidential election in 2002.

Dr Kurebwa’s study, which assessed the views of 10 322 people drawn from all the wards in Zimbabwe, concluded that Tsvangirai’s faction would win 13 Senate seats and 53 House of Assembly seats.

The other MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara would secure six and 18 seats in the Senate and House of Assembly elections respectively.

Only two independent candidates, one of them Jonathan Moyo, are expected to win House of Assembly seats. Moyo is the outgoing MP for Tsholotsho, which he won as an independent in 2005.

Interestingly, Moyo has also predicted that President Mugabe will win the elections while another study conducted by David Coltart of the Mutambara faction had also predicted the President would win.

In his prediction Moyo — a political scientist — said President Mugabe would romp to victory with Tsvangirai in second position and Makoni a distant third.

Dr Kurebwa said they dispatched another team last week on Friday to carry out a mock presidential ballot exercise and the results so far were similar to those of the broader survey.

"We have teams that are right now carrying out a mock election. People are given ballot papers and asked to vote in just the same way and procedure they will do on Saturday. So far, the results indicate more or less the same thing as the month-long survey," he said.

Dr Kurebwa gave the entry of Makoni in the presidential race as the probable reason why Tsvangirai’s share of the national vote would decline from the 48 percent he had in 2002 to the 26-27 percent projected by the survey.

"Makoni is pulling his numbers from Harare and Bulawayo, which are areas the MDC has concentrated its campaign resources in. At the same time, the ruling party also believes that it should regain these urban constituencies and hence there is a tussle there.

"Zanu-PF appears to have concentrated its resources in rural areas and managed to secure them. On the other hand, neither Makoni nor Tsvangirai has made any real attempts to market themselves there. So you have a situation where the areas the opposition are targeting being free for all while Zanu-PF is left alone to take the rural vote," Dr Kurebwa said.

For instance, the survey shows that in Lobengula, an opposition stronghold in Bulawayo, Tsvangirai will get 35 percent of the presidential vote, Makoni 33,5 percent and President Mugabe 29 percent; representing a 6 percent difference between the ruling party candidate and the opposition candidate expected to easily sweep that constituency.

On the other hand, in the Zanu-PF stronghold of Uzumba, President Mugabe is expected to amass a colossal 92 percent of the vote compared to Tsvangirai and Makoni’s 4 and 2 percent respectively.

Similarly, Tsvangirai’s lead over President Mugabe in the opposition stronghold of Chitungwiza South is a mere 2 percent.

But in the Zanu-PF bastion of Mhangura, President Mugabe holds a 60 percent lead over both Tsvangirai and Makoni.

An intriguing phenomenon across a number of constituencies is that President Mugabe will get significantly more votes than Zanu-PF Senate and House of Assembly candidates.

Theoretically, this means President Mugabe as an individual holds more appeal for voters than some of the candidates representing the ruling party in particular constituencies.

It also means there exists the probability of people voting for President Mugabe for the top job and then opting for someone else for the other available posts.

"There is disgruntlement largely stemming from some primary elections and so we will see a few cases of people voting for President Mugabe and then someone not from the ruling party. But we do not expect this variation to exceed beyond 10 percent across the whole country," Dr Kurebwa said.

The survey also shows that a vast majority of the electorate is going to accept the election outcome.

"Almost unanimously," Dr Kurebwa said, "the people we polled say they will respect the outcome of the elections even if their favoured parties and candidates lose. People do not want to go through the bitter experiences of past disputed elections."

Dr Kurebwa said of those who had been polled, only 1,7 percent — mainly from the 18-25 age group — were not registered voters.

Apart from gauging the manner in which people were likely to vote, the survey also assessed their reasons for supporting particular parties and candidates.

For instance, Dr Kurebwa said, a significant proportion of the electorate was primarily motivated by economic development, followed by the liberation war and issues of national security.

"People have strong feelings on the issue of (Western-imposed) sanctions and this is not surprising considering the economic environment we are living in. The economic environment has deepened their grievances. We also received some mixed signals on the issues of corruption and inflation and how they relate to economic performance," Dr Kurebwa said.

The issue of "change", long viewed as an opposition mainstay, is, in fact, central to the people who support Zanu-PF, as they believe that the ruling party is "advocating for change as embodied in economic empowerment".

"Another common factor emerging from the survey is that regardless of their residing in urban, peri-urban or rural areas, people are concerned with the issues of employment creation and food security. The issue of a new constitution is largely an elitist one," Dr Kurebwa said.

A number of the people polled indicated they had changed their allegiances since the 2005 parliamentary elections and Dr Kurebwa attributed this to "the wider choice available this time around".

The survey was carried out from mid-February to March 15 2008 and was conducted by four-member teams tasked to poll at least 45 people per constituency along gender, age and other demographic lines.

The survey also included council elections, but the results had not been processed yet because of time constraints.

Dr Kurebwa said they were also going to conduct an exit poll, during which a survey would be carried out of how people voted as they leave polling stations on Saturday.

‘Blair admitted telling lies about Zim to Mbeki’

Features and Political Editor

FORMER British prime minister Tony Blair admitted to South African President Thabo Mbeki that his government had erred on Zimbabwe but could not openly admit it without losing face.

Cde Mugabe, who was addressing his biggest star rally to date — an estimated 40 000 plus supporters who packed Chipadze Stadium in Bindura while thousands of others had to be locked out on account of limited sitting and standing space — said Blair had vowed that he would not go back on the lies he peddles on Zimbabwe as they had been swallowed by his allies and media embeds.

‘‘Vana Blair vakatya vakati tikataura kuti takonana nevarume ava pamusoro pevhu, tinokoneswa tirisu nekuti ndisu takatadza, ndisu tisina kuzadzisa chivimbiso chatanga tapa. Ndozvaakazotaura izvozvo, handiri kutaura zvangu zvekufungidzira asi zvandakaudzwa naPresident Mbeki that Blair actually admitted that his government was wrong.

‘‘Obvunzwa naPresident Mbeki kuti: ‘If your government was wrong, what then are you doing to correct that wrong?’ Zvikanzi izvo: ‘Ah, iyezvino tatoudza vanhu kare kuti ha taranga Zimbabwe nemasanctions pamusana pekuti hakuna hurumende ikoko irikutonga zvakanaka, Hurumende yavo irikudzvanyirira vanhu, Hurumende yacho zvakare haina democracy, Hurumende yacho haisiri kutevera murawo, the rule of law. Taudza vanhu vedu kare, vemapepa, majournalists varikuzviziva ah saka totoramba takasimbirira nenhema dzatakataura.

‘Eh, so we can’t go back,’ he said, ‘so we shall always be liars, telling lies,’ and these are the lies they are telling even right up to this day,’’ said Cde Mugabe to cheers and jubilant singing from the packed stadium.

On November 5 1997, Blair’s government reneged on the obligations entered into by the Tory administration of Mrs Margaret Thatcher in 1979 to bankroll land reforms in Zimbabwe, saying Labour was a new government made up of people, among them the Irish, who were also colonised and not colonisers, and as such they did not have any obligation to fund land reforms in Zimbabwe.

This blatant violation of the international law of succession that binds successive governments to honour agreements entered into by predecessors prompted the Government to compulsorily acquire land from white commercial farmers with compensation being paid only for developments on the farms.

This, Cde Mugabe said, was what riled the British, prompting them to impose ruinous economic sanctions on Zimbabwe in the hope

that the resultant hardships would force people to revolt against the Government.

He chronicled the gamut of economic sanctions on Zimbabwe, saying the fact that the economy was dominated by British companies, over 400 of them, who worked in cahoots with London, was what had worsened the effects of the sanctions. But the policies the Government had adopted, among them the Look East Policy, he said, were the key to defeating British machinations.

‘‘Patiri apa maBritish vari kuti vanhu ava tavatadza sei, kubva varamba vakamira nemakumbo maviri, dai vanga vava iyezvino pagumbo rimwe chete taizviona? Kubva vati chaizvo-izvo dzi? Ehe, tinoramba takati dzi, we will never collapse. I have told them kuUnited Nations ikoko taenda ko. The British want regime change. Havaigone, regime change inoitwa nevanhu vedu. Simba rekuchinja zvinhu riri muvanhu vedu, ndimi makatisarudza, ndimi zvakare munogona kutibvisa muzvigaro zvatiri moisa vamwe,’’ he said to applause from jubilant supporters.

He said all the programmes the Government was launching, among them the farm mechanisation programme, had been made possible by assistance from its Eastern partners.

Zanu-PF, Cde Mugabe said, is a people’s party which derives its mandate from the majority. He took a swipe at independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni for trying to impose himself on the people, and MDC faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai for being a willing British stooge.

‘‘Hamungaterere nhasi vanhu vamakanga musina, hutungamiri hwakanga husiko hondo yeChimurenga payakarwiwa. Vasina zvavo kumboda kubata apa nepapa.

"KuMDC ndiani ariko? Tsvangirai akasevenza kuno, kuTrojan ikoko, tea boy. Anoti iye: ‘Nekuti ndakaita basa rekupa tea, ndaipa vose vose, ndiyo democracy iyoyo, ndokwandakaifunda.’ Handisirini ndakadaro, ndiye akadaro, ‘that’s where I derived my principles of democracy mukuserver tea,’’ Cde Mugabe said to laughter from the crowd.

Tsvangirai has been running advertisements likening democracy to being a waiter, and that one of the former world leaders — ironically Ugandan autocrat Idi Amin — started off as a waiter.

Cde Mugabe thanked the people of Mashonaland Central for always sweeping all constituencies for Zanu-PF, saying they could not afford to do less as one of the luminaries of the First Chimurenga, Mbuya Chahwe — the medium of the Nehanda Spirit — hailed from that province, a province that also launched the decisive phases of the Second Chimurenga true to Mbuya Nehanda’s prophecy that her bones would rise again to decimate settler rule.

Cde Mugabe said it was because of the overwhelming support Zanu-PF draws from the province that he always addressed his final rally before election day in Mashonaland Central.

‘‘Saka ndo finale yataita kuno, nekuti kuno vanogara vakabuda shudhu. Hongu kuHarare tichafamba zvedu mangwana, asi kunenge kuri kungobatsira, asi finale yedu ndiyoyi. Saka finale zvainoitwa, music inobva yaenda kumusoro, ndiyo yavanoti pachirungu crescendo. Inoperera kupi? Kumusoro crescendo, saka ndiyo yatinoda iyoyo crescendo (tomorrow),’’ he said to loud slogans from the packed stadium.

Remain vigilant to counter British moves — President

Herald Reporters

ZIMBABWEANS must remain vigilant to counter British moves to undermine their independence and sovereignty, President Mugabe has said.

Speaking at a rally held at Chipadze Stadium in Bindura yesterday, the President said the British were sending in clandestine operatives in a bid to compromise the peace and security situation.

‘‘Hondo yemaBritish irikuramba iripo. Varikupinza iyezvino vanhu pachivande muno, tochenjera, kurikuuya maforces akawanda. Mamwe epasi-pasi, including SAS, vese ivavo, Special Air Service people. Saka zvemaBritish zvavarikuronga zvakawanda, tochenjera, kuchenjera security yedu. Kuchenjera politics dzedu. Kuti vatinoterera ndavanani?’’

The President’s comments come in the wake of the arrest of a British pilot contracted to carry campaign material for MDC faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai earlier this week, a development that sources say could provide details of how the MDC election campaign is being funded by foreigners in contravention of the Political Parties Finance Act.

The pilot, who was in possession of British and South African passports bearing different names, was arrested after security details were alerted to the fact that he wanted to fly his helicopter without filing a proper flight plan with the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe.

The helicopter is now under police guard at Charles Prince Airport just outside Harare.

Commenting on the helicopter in an interview with The Herald and ZBCTV yesterday, Cde Mugabe said though he was still to receive a full report from the police, the development posed serious security concerns.

‘‘It’s a serious matter, we don’t know what the MDC is up to. They could bring in arms caches or anything, and land you know, in hidden places, these are helicopters by the way. It means we should keep up our vigilance, and remain aware that the enemy has a lot of plans against us.’’

He said if the MDC genuinely wanted a helicopter to use for their campaigns they could easily have hired one from within Zimbabwe.

‘‘It’s a situation, naturally, that raises concern. If they wanted a helicopter to use within the country, why didn’t they hire? There are small planes here that they could hire without importing a helicopter. We know they have people outside who help them but not all these people are our friends,’’ Cde Mugabe said.

It is believed that the pilot works for the British foreign intelligence service, the MI6, and was hired and paid by foreigners involved in Tsvangirai’s election campaign including a former British soldier working in Zimbabwe.

Roy Bennett, the self-exiled treasurer-general in the Tsvangirai faction and now based in South Africa, is also understood to have paid for 2 420 litres of fuel to be used during the operation.

The pilot has a South African passport which gives his name as Brendon Douglas Bridge, which he used to try and file a flight plan with CAAZ, while his British passport identifies him as Brenton Bridge Smyth.

On the day he was arrested (March 25 2008), he had been ferried to Charles Prince Airport by Mr Maxwell Daniel, a Scot by birth who served as a member of the British Marines and claims to have been in the Police Constabulary from 1984 to 2000.

Daniel’s role in the election campaign, coupled with the pilot’s suspected MI6 links, is said to have alerted security services to the likely existence of a well co-ordinated British plot to fund the MDC’s campaign. Others arrested that day were Jameson Timba, an MDC-Tsvangirai House of Assembly candidate in Mt Pleasant and Garikai Tshuma, a fourth-year University of Zimbabwe student serving as a campaign manager for the former.

"We are still investigating the pilot’s British intelligence links and the presence of people such as Daniel, who is a former British marine indicate something more sinister than a mere election campaign.

"Mr Bennett is believed to be co-ordinating the foreign funding operation from South Africa through his links in that country and further abroad.

"These activities are not only in contravention of the Political Parties (Finance) Act which prohibits foreign funding for parties but also substantiate the long-held contention that the opposition is an appendage of foreign interests seeking regime change in Zimbabwe," said the sources.

The sources said the police would probably charge Bridge, alias Smyth, with contravening Section 29 (1)(a) as read with Section 36(1)(a) of the Immigration Act Chapter 4:0 as well as contravening Section 136 of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act Chapter 9:23.

"There still remains the possibility of invoking the Suppression of International Terrorism Act to keep this guy in holding until it can be established that this was not part of a wider espionage conspiracy that has been taking place over an extended period of time.

"His (the pilot’s) intentions in Zimbabwe seem thoroughly dishonourable and indicate breaches of our security mechanisms as a nation. Everything is being done to uncover the identities of all those involved and more arrests are likely to follow very soon," the sources said.

"Consultations are presently going on with the Attorney-General’s Office to ascertain whether these activities by the MDC are not in contravention of the Electoral Act," the sources added.

According to information availed to The Herald, on March 21, Bridge, alias Smyth, filed a flight plan with the Polokwane Airport Authority in South Africa to travel to Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport in Bulawayo with CAAZ.

He arrived at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport alone the next day flying a South African registered helicopter (ZS-RML) and was cleared by immigration authorities. Tsvangirai is understood to have met him at the airport in the company of MDC activists and they proceeded to try and file a new flight plan with CAAZ.

The aviation authorities refused to accept it as it did not meet the standard 24-hour clearance requirement and at this stage Tsvangirai pleaded with Mr Godfrey Gondo of the Immigration Department to let the helicopter proceed.

Mr Gondo refused and Bridge alias Smyth then proceeded to change his flight plan so that he could go to Harare. He arrived at Charles Prince Airport on March 24 where he filed another flight plan that would see him fly to Chipinge, Bikita, Buhera, Bulawayo and finally back to Polokwane.

One Erick Richard picked him up at the airport and took him to a city hotel (name provided) where a booking had been made for him by a JT Tiriboyi.

AU observer team hails peaceful environment

Herald Reporter

THE African Union election observer team has said the situation in Zimbabwe is conducive for free and fair elections, joining the long list of observer teams that have predicted tomorrow’s polls will be transparent.

Head of the AU election observer team former Sierra Leone President Mr Ahmed Tejan Kabbah said the run-up to the polls was peaceful.

Mr Kabbah — who flew into Harare on Wednesday afternoon — said he had managed to move around the capital during which he spoke to a few people and had been impressed by the peaceful environment prevailing.

"Since we arrived we have been looking around. We saw that the place was peaceful. This morning I met one political party leader and he told me that he was against violence, and I believed him and we are hopeful that the election will be violence-free," said Mr Kabbah, who last visited Zimbabwe in 1980 when it attained independence.

He said he had noted that all political parties contesting the elections were being accorded time in the public media to carry out their campaigns.

"I want to believe that the story moving around that other political parties are not allowed to broadcast or use media facilities may not be accurate. I am saying this because I have been watching television and listening to radio and access to the media is being given to all parties. So let’s try to convey the truth," said Mr Kabbah.

Another member of the observer team, Justice Lewis Makame, said an AU assessment team dispatched to Zimbabwe three weeks ago was satisfied with the political situation prevailing in the country.

Justice Makame is chairman of the Electoral Commission of Tanzania.

"Before we came we were told that the shops were empty, but we went there and found them full. We were told that police beat up people, but we never saw that and we met stakeholders like the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and we were satisfied by the situation in the country," said Justice Makame.

The mission later met the ZEC and was also expected to meet political parties’ representatives, civil society and other stakeholders.

Mr Kabbah is leading 21 observers drawn from the continent.

AU Election Observer Mission coordinator Professor Raphel Omotayo Olaniyan said the team would observe the elections within the spirit and letter of the Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa as adopted by the AU Assembly in July 2002.

"The presence of the AU observer team constitutes an unequivocal proof of the AU’s commitment to contribute to the promotion and strengthening of democracy and the rule of law on our continent. The main objective of the mission is to make an honest, independent and impartial observation and assessment of the organisation and conduct of the harmonised elections," he said.

Several observer missions have expressed confidence that the elections will be free and fair.

The Pan-African Parliament Election Observer Team, the Sadc Election Observer Team and the Sadc Elections Commission Forum have all hailed the peaceful environment prevailing ahead of the polls.

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